[-empyre-] On Currencies, Capitalism, and the Fed

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Tue Apr 28 14:03:43 EST 2009

Thank you, Jeff.

I agree with much of what you are writing.  Big, if it equals
militarism, is horrible.  Wars require that level of coordination, and
once you fire up the machine, it does perpetuate itself.

But, following Steve's comments, I do think that beyond the question
of size, there is the real question of purpose.  And, theoretically,
we ought to be able to influence the purpose of government as easily
as we can influence its size.

I am suspicious that anti big government sentiment might be easily
used by folks with ulterior motives (like Grover Norquist, who talks
about "starving the beast"--spending to the point of crisis, and then
using crisis as a pretext to dismantle the social safety net).

On the other hand, working for good, peaceful government could
possibly eliminate the huge expense of war.  In the short term, it
wouldn't explicitly work towards a smaller budget, but a smaller
budget could be one of the possibilities that it unleashes.

My biggest fear is that in reducing the size of government, the first
cuts would be in social services, regulators, education, and
infrastructure...  the areas where we have seen cuts already....  we'd
cut all of those things before we ever touched the military, law
enforcement, and prison budget...  and then, we'd be left with a
population so poorly educated, poorly paid, and poorly served...  that
nobody would even be able to change much of anything except through
violence.  (And, well, you'd have that giant army and all those
prisons to keep everyone from rioting).

In my mind, it seems like the surest path to reasonable government is
to insist upon rational policies that serve the people.



On Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 9:44 AM, jeff pierce <zentrader at live.ca> wrote:
> Davin,
> Sorry for the long delay, as I've had many other projects that needed to be
> attended too, but I wanted to get back to you on this question about big
> government. I also want to recommend a book I'm currently reading and
> reviewing for the publisher called "Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets." Highly
> readable and enjoyable for anybody who enjoys learning about history and
> current events in a comedic fashion. It does an amazing job of education the
> reader on topics that the media & government makes out to be very confusing.
> Here is an excerpt from this book that was written 2 years ago, and I can
> only imagine what the sequel to this book (if there even is one) is going to
> say about what is going on in government these days.
> Paul Kennedy writes, "It is simply staggering to learn that this
> single country -- a democratic republic that claims to despise large gov't
> -- now spends more each year on the military than the next 9 largest
> national defence budgets combined."
> I'm absolutely positive that our spending now, after a war with Iraq,
> Afghanistan, and possible Pakistan or Iran next is probably larger than the
> next 18 countries. Our country, our republic, our empire is simply out of
> control and not living in reality with how much money they can devote to
> expanding the Anglo-Saxon empire that is the United States. Printing more
> money has been the solution for such a long time and it's simply not the
> correct one. Our government is too big for it's own good.
> Obama promised in his campaign speeches that one of the first things he's
> going to do is bring our troops home. Then he backpedalled once he one and
> said he'd look at bringing them home in 12 months, then 24 months, and then
> he doubled the amount of troops in Afghanistan to 30,000. He is doing the
> exact opposite of what he promised.
> One other quote from the book I want to close on is the following which
> details exactly what must occur to bring an empire to it's knees.
> "encouraging higher levels of consumption, higher spending for government,
> more regulation, huge new doses of debt, nationalism, price
> controls, inflation, and special treatment for favoured industries,
> particularly defence."
> Every single one of those are happening right now except price controls, and
> there is talk among certain circles that this is coming, along with
> rationing down the road possibly for gas, food, and water when
> shortages start.
> Maybe bigger government is needed in 3rd world countries to guide them and
> jumpstart the development of societies and the economy, but I have to
> believe it's different for a country like the U.S. which is already
> developed and doesn't need to be micromanaged at every single level.
> Government's role should be limited to building infrastructure, social
> programs, national defence (when we are being attacked) and creating
> laws/keeping peace.
> I simply believe that they are too big and have become a burden and a
> liability of the citizens of this great nation, and if reform doesn't start
> soon, I fear this age in history is not going to be well remembered in the
> coming decades.
>> Date: Thu, 16 Apr 2009 10:20:21 -0400
>> From: davinheckman at gmail.com
>> To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] On Currencies, Capitalism, and the Fed
>> Jeff,
>> I am interested in keeping these conversations going, as
>> conversations, as my concerns are purely intellectual here. I make no
>> secret of my disenchantment with capitalism, but I don't know that I
>> have a particular answer that I could realistically offer in its
>> place. While I definitely see the appeal of various socialist
>> theories, I have also spent a fair amount of time reading about
>> libertarian and capitalist ideas... and I don't know that I could
>> ever say they are absolutely wrong.... anymore than I can say that a
>> hammer or a screwdriver is wrong. I only have questions about what
>> these particular social technologies are good for. And I don't
>> believe they are good for everything.
>> But what is wrong with big government?
>> Of course, big government and the future debts of the United States
>> will impact my future income and the income of my children.... but if
>> I look at many states in South America, for instance, I see that
>> people NEED big government. I spent a couple months in Honduras, and
>> that nation suffers from a very weak state, from businesses that can
>> step in and push them around, and as a result poverty is widespread
>> and devastating.
>> At its biggest levels, the transnational corporation functions as
>> governments do.... it writes laws and enforces its will with its
>> army. And it gravitates to those places where governments are week,
>> so that it does not have to deal with human rights. The only way that
>> a corporation can be forced to address the question of human rights is
>> either through the pressure of shareholders (indirect and unlikely),
>> through consumer boycotts (more likely, but still indirect), or
>> through law (direct, but only likely in strong states). I mean, all
>> across the country we had these "tea parties," yesterday. Which, on
>> its face, seems like a quite reasonable thing. (Who isn't sickened by
>> the idea that government taxes people and then serves the rich?). But
>> if you went to any of these events, it was very clear that the
>> organizers were just trying to seize legitimate frustration and then
>> convince those in attendance that Obama is the problem, rather than
>> the system itself. It's incredibly sad that all these frustrated
>> people turned out to carry water for a handful of pro-business,
>> GOP-connected foundations.
>> I cannot deny the evil of ballooning budgets, particularly when they
>> are being used to finance war and further privilege. (I would love to
>> see the government spend more money on schools, libraries,
>> infrastructure and socialized medicine).
>> Of course, US politics is highly dysfunctional, but this is because
>> big businesses realize that they cannot do business here unless they
>> take the electoral process seriously, and spend billions every year on
>> lobbying and propaganda. In the past, big business used to have to
>> promise workers high-paying jobs in exchange for political influence,
>> and this does seem kind of sleazy. But, on the other hand, the world
>> is filled with examples of countries with workers who don't even have
>> that bargaining power.
>> I agree, absolutely, that it does need to be fixed. And I do blame
>> the U.S. government for many of the absurdities, but at the same time,
>> it doesn't mean that people could not get together and build a
>> government that is an effective defender of the rights of its
>> citizens.
>> Take care!
>> Davin
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